4-H Military Family: Using books to help families face deployment

Children’s books provide a way for parents, caregivers and young children to learn about deployment and the many changes that happen.

Deployment can be a stressful time for families, especially young children. During deployment many changes are taking place within the family and young children may not be able to fully understand them. Many times, young children are unable to fully process what a deployment means and why their service member is gone. A great way to help explain deployment and give young children an idea of what to expect can be to use children’s books.

Children’s books provide a way for parents, caregivers and young children to learn about deployment and the many changes that happen during a deployment. By reading about other military families, children and situations, they will be able to recognize that they are not alone and that other families are having experiences and feelings that are similar to their own. Books also offer an opportunity for parents and caregivers to connect with their young child one-on-one and provide a special time to talk about how the family will adjust to the upcoming changes.

The 4-H Military Family Book Sheets help parents and guardians find books and activities to help their children during the various stages of their service members’ deployments. Each book sheet contains a summary of the book, author and publication details, and activities they can use with their children pre-, during or post-deployment to extend the message of the book. To find each book, check with your local library, bookstore or online retailer.

The book that we are highlighting in this article is “Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom.”

In Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom, 9-year-old Lizzie writes to her mother, who is deployed overseas during wartime. Besides Lizzie’s letters, the book includes her maps that illustrate what she’s been doing and thinking while mom is away.

Pre-deployment activities

During-deployment activities

Post-deployment activities

If you are looking for more articles about deployment support, check out Finding Support for Children and Youth with Deployed Family Members for a helpful checklist on who might support your child or youth during your service member’s deployment and the Emotional Cycle of Deployment that explains each stage of the deployment cycle and gives helpful activities you can do to keep your family connected.. You can also find additional deployment support information on the Military OneSource website, the Operation: Military Kids website and the 4-H Military Partnerships website.